Cubs looking at dealing for SS Hiroyuki Nakajima

Cubs looking at dealing for SS Hiroyuki Nakajima

According to Ken Rosenthal, the agent for Hiroyuki Nakajima has broached the possibility of a sign and trade from the New York Yankees.  The Yankees won the rights to negotiate with Nakajima with a $2.5 M bid.  With the Yankees, Nakajima was viewed strictly as a versatile backup who could spell Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano on occasion -- a duty that he would presumably share with Eduardo Nunez.

With the Cubs, however, Nakajima could challenge for the 2B job.  The 29 year old infielder was a multiple all-star in the NPB and played in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as well as the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Defensively, he's a Gold Glove SS and an athletic player with a great arm.  Offensively he is an aggressive hitter from the right side of the plate. However, he has improved his patience at the plate in the last 2 seasons, walking at a rate that would be above average in the MLB.  His slash line last year was .314/.385/.511.  He also hit 20 HRs and stole 15 bases.

Like Crisp, Nakajima would continue the trend toward the more athletic, defensively oriented players that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have sought to add this offseason.  It appears we're going to see a much different team that will rely on speed and defense to win ballgames.  The pitching should benefit as well and the hope is that the Cubs pitchers will pitch closer to their FIPs next season -- that alone would make for an improvement without adding a single arm.

It appears that we're going to have to get used to a whole different type of Cubs team next year.



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  • Certainly interesting, particularly if the Cubs nab Darvish. It seems like he would be brought into effectively replace LeMahieu and possibly DeWitt.

  • In reply to WGNstatic:

    I think that's exactly what he'd be and like LeMahieu, he'd probably get the chance to unseat Barney. He's a much better defender than LeMahieu and might have more pop and OBP skills than Barney.

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    Why does it seem like everyone is so hard on Darwin? He's young, cheap, a solid defender and a 300 hitter. I'd take 9 of them.

  • In reply to mblum876:

    Barney is pretty good, but it will take a bunch of more than "pretty good" to make it to the world series. It is nothing against Barney and his skill set.

  • In reply to mblum876:

    I am not sure I want a team of 9 Darwins, but I am not looking to replace him either. That said, Barney is in the class of player who I want to have challenged for playing time.

  • In reply to mblum876:

    With 9 Barney's, you'd lose a lot of games.
    I wouldn't call him a '300 hitter'....more like a 280 hitter which means a 315 OBP and no power. He's a good 25th man, IMO.

  • In reply to Norm:

    He's a solid defender at SS and 2B, so he has great value as a utility guy. Offensive limitations make him a borderline starter. I think if you're a team with a lot of offense or a small market team with limited resources, you could do a lot worse than having Barney at SS or 2B. Unfortunately, the Cubs don't fit under either of those categories.

  • In reply to mblum876:

    Barney's a decent player, no big knock on him. The problem to me is that he needs to get stronger and develop some sort of extra base power, so that pitcher don't go right after him. I don't think he's a .300 hitter long term and he doesn't walk enough to raise his OBP or hit enough extra base hits to be of much value on offense. Most of his value is on defense and the fact that he is inexpensive.

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    In reply to mblum876:

    I think the Cubs can live with Barney at 2nd base for now. He's not the problem but a solution for now. Soriano, Zambrano, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, Russ Ortiz (basically most of the back end of the starting rotation) were the problem. We still have problems currently also but I'm confident Theo will find a solution.

  • I would rather have 6 players that hit 10-15 home runs a year, but play great defense and have very good speed (athletic). This team is on the right path to success--short and long term.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    I agree, but I'd want the other 2 guys to have a big bat ;) The more ways you can score, the better.

  • What would his trade value be? It seems possible, if not likely, that he would return to Japan rather than backup Jeter, ARod, and Cano.

    Does anyone know if the Cubs bid on him originally?

  • In reply to WGNstatic:

    im not 100% positive but i think the yankees were the only team to bid.

  • In reply to WGNstatic:

    I'm not sure on the Cubs. I'd heard the Giants were interested when he was posted, so it wouldn't surprise me if they bid too.

  • Because of Wrigley Field fans believe that home run hitters are the
    way to go. As we have all seen defense and speed might be a
    better way to go. I'm for getting any players that fit this new approach.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    It can be a tough park to hit it when the weather is bad or the wind blows in. It really plays like two different parks, so I think the Cubs need a team that can win in many different ways, including power.

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    Hiroyuki Nakajima would bring defense and speed to the middle infield, kinda like what Kosuke Fukudoma brought in the outfield. Will this guy hit well enough? I'm leaning towards No but I hope I'm wrong. Kosuke was an awesome hitter in Japan but that didn't translate well in the bigs besides being a good on base player. Seems most Japanese players that come to the bigs struggle behind the plate except Ichiro. Shin-Soo Choo had some great years with Cleveland but he struggled last year mostly because of an injury. I don't see Hiroyuki doing that much better then Barney. The Cubs also have utility infielders on there roster. I'd be surprised if the Cubs actually go and get Hiroyuki.

    On a side note, The "buzz" is that Toronto had whopper of offer on Darvish. Many reasons for Jays to bid more than $50mm. Believe Rangers bid. Prob. in $40s. Still no word on what the Cubs "potentially" bid.

  • In reply to Danny Guerra:

    Fukudome was not a bad player, he just wasn't a $12M player. We can't get scared away from looking at all markets to upgrade the team because one player didn't live up to his contract. If the Cubs had signed Fukudome for half that money, then I would have liked that deal a lot. The key is to make sure you get good value. If Nakajima can field as well as Barney but provide a bit more pop on offense, then why not take that chance. At worst he's a very good utility infielder who can play every position and provide depth.

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    It was eye-opening to see a really talented defensive outfielder play right field for the cubs when KF was out there. I liked seeing Reed Johnson out there too even though he always got hurt. He hit LH and was very sound defensively. But wow was he overpaid. I like what WGN static said in that he should be challenged. DB showed no power. He did hit singles and did ok with runners on base for a rookie. I also think he could continue to improve, but keep pushing the bar Cubbies. It would be nice to have some hope this year.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    Agreed, nothing wrong with a little competition and upgrading whenever you can. I have hope that the Cubs will be better, and who knows? If they're within striking distance in a weak NL Central in July, maybe you add another piece or two midseason.

  • I wouldn't want 9 Darwin Barneys, but I can think of a lot worse problems, like most of their other position players and starting pitchers...

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    John, assuming we added Nakajima and Crisp, how do you see Sveum filling out that lineup card?

    Lf Crisp S
    Ss Castro R
    1b LaHair L
    Ca Soto R
    3b Stewart L
    2b Nakajima R
    Rf DeJesus L
    Cf Byrd R

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Can CC get on base enough to lead off? I might swap Dejesus and CC in your example, not that the former is ideal. If Rudy can help CC improve it would surely be great to have a speedy switch hitter atop the lineup!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Tough to say. Nakajima might have the OBP to hit higher in the order and at this point, I'd have to think Castro is a strong candidate for the 3rd spot. DeJesus is a better OBP guy than Crisp, so it wouldn't surprise me to see DeJesus leadoff, as OBP would have more value to Epstein/Hoyer than SB at the top of the lineup.

  • What type of deal would it take to land him? Do you think Yanks tank Blake Dewitt even? Can back up Arod, Jeter, and Cano. He's also ML-ready.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I would love for it to be DeWitt but if that were the case, they may as well keep Nakijima...unless that is, they're doing it for the sake of giving him a better opportunity and getting their money back on the bid. It might be DeWitt and a prospect, but I don't think it would be all that costly.

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